Critical Condition

March Madness

Forget about your brackets. If you’re looking to chart a spectacle this week, look no further than the House of Representatives. The next few days will give new meaning to the phrase “March madness.”

Last night, to begin the Obamacare reconciliation process, Democrats released their 2,309-page health-care bill. This afternoon, starting at 3 p.m., the House Budget Committee will begin to mark it up. That session could drag on until midnight, but don’t expect much substance. One senior House GOP aide tells National Review Online that today’s deliberations will be “charade,” since “whatever the budget committee puts in will be stripped and replaced with Speaker Pelosi’s deals once it gets to the rules committee.”

That sounds about right, based on what Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the committee’s ranking member, told NRO last week:

Ryan says that, come Monday, Democrats “will bring a shell piece of reconciliation legislation” to the budget committee. “The reconciliation process has to begin there,” he says. “Here’s what they’ll do: They will take the House health-care bill and mark it up so that it can become a reconciliation vehicle. Republicans will make runs at this via motions to instruct, but since we’re outnumbered, their package will get through the committee. Then they’ll send that shell of a bill to the House Rules Committee. The rules committee will then gut the budget committee’s reconciliation bill and drop in all of the deals that Speaker Pelosi arranges with members who vote for the Senate health-care bill in the House.” Those deals, he adds, “will be hard to scrutinize, and we may never know their full extent, since many of them will be orchestrated outside of health-care legislation.”

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

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